Fiat Urban Cross Review & Test Drive

 

OVERVIEW ;

Fiat Avventura Urban Cross is the third variation of the Punto hatchback with a striking similarity to the Avventra, save for some key elements such as tail-gate mounted spare wheel, missing on the cross-hatch. The Urban Cross is available in both petrol and diesel fuel options, coupled to a conventional five-speed manual transmission. Diesel powered Urban-Cross is offered in two variants-Active and Dynamic and the petrol engine is available on the range topping Emotion variant. Provisions standard across line-up include Fiat’s Smartech 5.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation and Bluetooth.

Launched at an introductory price of Rs 6.85 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), Fiat Urban Cross is a derivative of Punto after the hatchback and Avventura. The production version of Urban Cross comes bereft of styling elements such as LED DRLs, 17-inch alloys and chrome accentuated front grille seen in the prototype. Instead, it sports 16-inch alloy rims, side body cladding and roof spoiler. Scorpio alloy wheels and special badging across the car is specific to the top-spec Abarth variant. In terms of infotainment, the model benefits from a 5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, USB, AUX and navigation.

DESIGN AND STYLE ;

The exterior design of the Urban Cross is much like that of the Avventura. The new Fiat Urban Cross looks more stylish and premium. It also has a sporty touch to it. The Urban Cross doesn’t get an Avventura-like rear-mounted spare wheel. The Urban Cross gets a Merc A Class-like ‘diamond grille’. While the basic design is the same, the new Urban Cross si chic and even slightly sporty. The headlamps with LED fixtures seen on the concept haven’t made it to the production spec model. The fog lamps are also new. The new Urban Cross rides on stylish 16-inch alloy wheels. While the petrol model borrows the Abarth Avventura’s Scorpion alloy wheels, the diesel version gets the standard model’s alloys. The Urban Cross gets a black rub strip on its doors. The roof rails are finished in silver.

CABIN AND COMFORT ;

The interiors too are similar to the Avventura’s, except for a slight change in the colour scheme, and the omission of the central compass and inclinometer, which is a shame because that cluster was a standout feature that gave the car sense of purpose. However, the Urban Cross’ purpose is more about urban practicality and hence what you get is a small cubbyhole like in the Punto Evo. A big addition to the Punto line-up has been the touchscreen and just like the other cars, all variants of the Urban Cross get it too, but overall it’s quite a let-down. It has all the regular features like SD card-based navigation, USB, aux and Bluetooth. It also plays video, but only when the car is stationary with the handbrake on, in the interests of safety. But at 5 inches, the screen is way too small, making it difficult to read and fiddly to use; some owners will have phones that are larger. The screen isn’t very responsive to touch so it’s a good thing that the steering wheel and head unit get hard buttons and dials for functions such as volume, track select and modes. The dashboard still looks nice and with a decent soft-touch finish, but the speedo and tachometer gauges and particularly the digital display for the trip computer looks quite dated. The front seats are quite large and comfortable but aren’t perfect – the driving position is odd and what was once known as the classic Italian position that suited long legs and short arms. So finding a comfortable position will take some fiddling around and even then you won’t quite find the perfect spot.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION ;

This is the Abarth-powered Avventura, the only petrol in the line-up and it makes a solid 138bhp of power at 5500rpm and 210Nm of torque from 2000-4000rpm. The Urban Cross is lighter by 70kg, most of it thanks to the contraption holding the spare wheel on the boot being removed, and that has improved its acceleration times by 0.2 of a second to the 100kmph sprint. It now does it in 9.7 seconds, claims Fiat. What’s nice about this T-Jet motor is the strong mid-range. The surge of turbocharged torque is strong enough to make a quick overtake without a downshift, and through the entire rev-range this strong T-Jet feels like a cut above the rest of the hot hatchbacks made in India (besides the Abarth Punto of course). The torque tends to overwhelm traction at the front on full bore acceleration runs, (accentuated by the raised ground clearance) resulting in lots of torque steer. But if you feed in the power gradually, it is a very satisfying drive. Despite the increased ground clearance of 205mm and the associated roll, the Urban Cross is still one of the grippiest hatchbacks around. The plus side is that with the higher ground clearance over the Abarth Punto, the Urban Cross is much easier to drive through pothole-filled roads of the city and over steep speed breakers.

RIDE AND HANDLING ;

The Fiat Urban Cross has brilliant ride quality and the suspension is very pliant and can soak up any sort of broken tarmac easily. The car feels very stable at all speeds and composure feels rock solid. The steering also has brilliant feel and feedback and is very precise too. The tyres have good levels of grip and the Urban Cross feels predictable while diving into corners. However, due to the increased ground clearance, the body roll feels very pronounced. The brakes on the Abarth have a very sharp bite and it takes time getting used to, while braking on the diesel trim is pretty satisfactory too.

BRAKING AND SAFETY ;

The Fiat Urban Cross braking system features ventilated disc at the front and drums brakes at the rear in the diesel version, and disc brakes at all wheels in the petrol version. The braking efficiency is further improved with anti-lock braking system with electronic brake force distribution for effective control over wet and slippery surfaces. The safety features in the 1.4 L T-Jet Petrol variant include automatic door lock and driver side airbag with early crash sensors for quick opening of the airbags. The Fiat Urban Cross Diesel version does not have the airbag safety feature.

BOTTOMLINE ;

Fiat has priced the Urban Cross very competitively, and all three variants are priced well below their Avventura counterparts. At Rs 6.85 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the base Active trim diesel comes in a whole lakh cheaper than the base trim Avventura, and at Rs 9.85 lakh the top-end Emotion trim (which comes only with the petrol engine) is also cheaper than the Avventura by Rs 50,000.With its roots in the original Punto, the Urban Cross benefits from a suspension that’s built to deal with our tough roads. However, it also inherits a few flaws, such as the odd driving position and, despite the updates, it still lags behind in equipment and tech for today’s times. No doubt this car is really showing its age and it feels outdated in comparison to most rivals, but going in its favour is sensible pricing and a tough build that’s well suited to our conditions.

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